Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

28 01 2014

This hearty soup is a staple in Italian households around the globe, mine included. You’ll find many versions, but the traditional recipes keep it super simple with escarole, beans, garlic, water and chili pepper. My version stays close to tradition, but I add a little proscuitto to flavor the oil, along with mashing some of the beans to thicken the soup. You can leave the proscuitto out for a meatless meal if you’d like. Grab a spoon, a glass of vino and get ready to be transported to an Italian bistro. Mangia!

Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

Zuppa di Scarola e Fagioli (Escarole and Bean Soup)

The following serves 2-4 (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Couple slices of thinly shaved prosciutto, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 chili peppers, minced or red pepper flakes (My grocery store doesn’t always have chili peppers, but they sell minced chili peppers in a tube – which is actually easier! Use 2 Tbsp if you go for the tube option.)
  • 2 heads of escarole, thinly sliced
  • 3 cans (15 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • Lemon oil
  • Parmesan cheese, grated

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat a few Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat Add prosciutto and cook until crispy. Reduce heat to low (allow the temp of the pot to decrease first so the following doesn’t burn) and add garlic and chili pepper, cook for a few minutes, stirring often. Season with salt to taste.

Next add the escarole and increase the heat back to medium. Saute and stir occasionally until completely wilted and the escarole has had time to absorb the flavored oil, 5 minutes. Season with a little salt to taste.

Add 1/4 of the beans and mash well with a potato masher. Add the rest of the beans (whole) and the broth. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed.

Divide among bowls, top with a drizzle of lemon oil (or regular oil if you don’t have a flavored lemon oil) and lots of parmesan cheese. Serve with crostini for cleaning the bowl and a glass of vino! 🙂

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Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Escarole

26 09 2011

Fall is here and so are the great recipes that bring out the best flavors of the season! I snagged this recipe from Food Everyday – it’s fast and a great value too (just under $10 for 4 people)! With the touch of ricotta and a drizzle of nutty brown butter, this dinner is deliciously sweet and savory.

Spaghetti with Butternut Squash and Escarole

  • Course salt and ground pepper
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (I peeled and cubed the whole squash, storing half in the fridge for another recipe later this week)
  • 1 box spaghetti (about 3/4 lb)
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 head escarole, leaves torn or cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 7 oz ricotta (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (see my tip below for how I used the lemon)

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook squash until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a colander to drain. Return water to a boil. Add pasta; cook according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 – 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta and return to pot.

While the pasta is cooking, finish the squash. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 Tbsp butter over medium-high. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots and tender when pierced, about 8 minutes. Add escarole and cook, stirring until just beginning to wilt, 1 minute. Add vegetables to pot with pasta. To the skillet, add 4 Tbsp butter and cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until butter is lightly browned and has a nutty aroma – about 1 minute.  Drizzle over pasta and toss to combine, adding enough pasta water to create a light sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish, top with ricotta and serve with lemon wedges (note: you mix the ricotta into the pasta as you eat).

This Girl’s tip: Rather than serving the lemon on the side, I zested half the lemon into the boiling pasta water right before I dropped the pasta. I zested the other half of the lemon into the squash while they were browning. When I tossed everything together, I used half the juice of the lemon to brighten everything up just before serving.